Microsoft developed the Kinect with video games in mind, but hackers and hobbists had other ideas. When the Kinect was first released, Adafruit, a New York electronics company, offered $3,000 for whoever could crack the PC drivers first. The incentive worked and immediately after the open source Kinect drivers were released, hobbists started their home brewed projects. Microsoft didn't prosecute the hackers, but has since released a PC development kit for the Kinect.
The Microsoft Research Kinect software developer kit—the one announced shortly after the OpenKinect kerfuffle and released last summer—was intended for academics and enthusiasts and carried a license that ruled out business uses; one Kinect hacker complained to me that using it amounted to giving Microsoft free publicity.
Whether or not Microsoft is taking advantage of Kinect hack hype, the Kinect has allowed controller-less user interfaces. Current Kinect hacks allow doctors to manipulate operation images while staying in the sterile zone, encourages rehabilitiation in child cancer patients, and lets artists make 3D computer objects with their hands.
[via the NY Times]